Bringing Wellness Full Circle

Posts tagged ‘nutrition’

Feel Well Rules

1. Be aware of what you eat 

Too often people consume mindlessly. I don’t believe in counting every calorie any longer, even though this does help some people get control of their eating. I believe in being conscious of what you eat, and paying attention to how your body responds to food. When we eat mindfully, we become aware of our hunger and we know when we are full. Basic weight loss is simply about eating just enough to not be hungry anymore, but enough so that food is not on your mind any longer.

2. Add fruits and vegetables.

Healthy nutrition is vital to good health. If you do not plan for fruits and vegetables in your diet, you might not consume them. They are not shelf-stable and often not pre-packaged. Eat a wide variety, as well as colors of foods, as each color provides different types of nutritional benefits. Make your goal to eat a colorful plate!

fall apples

3. Reduce, and when possible, avoid highly processed foods, with artificial ingredients and additives.

This just makes sense. The more processed items you consume, the more challenging your journey to health and wellness will be. Strive to make the BULK of your diet based in whole or natural foods.

4. Drink water throughout the day.

Water is necessary for life. For your body to function at its best you need to maintain hydration. As oil is to a car, water in to your body. In order to allow your body to work as it was designed, you need to drink water throughout the day.


5. Move your body every day.

This is not brain surgery complicated… In order to stay healthy you need to keep moving. Not just one kind of movement, but many. The three biggies are (1) Cardio to get the heart rate elevated, (2) strength training to tone the muscles and build bones, and (3) stretching to keep the body flexible and balanced.

6. Get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep is paramount to good health. At night your body restores itself on a cellular level. Without adequate rest you will perform at a sub-par level. It is important to quiet the mind. Create a bedtime routine and stick to it. Allow yourself the gift of rest.

7. Seek daily self-enrichment.

Spending time investing in yourself creates harmony in mind, body and spirit. Create a habit of learning new things and ways to express yourself–this keeps the mind sharp and increase mental and spiritual health. Look for uplifting and motivational material to read or watch regularly.

8. Don’t be negative.

Duh…Negative attitudes are not conducive to good health. What you think and speak has a direct affect on your personal well-being. Complaining, gossiping and feelings of inability will lead to more of the same. Retrain your mind to look for the good in all things. This attitude shift can increase endorphins.

negative committee

9. Practice daily stress-relief.

Stress is a major risk factor in all forms of disease. Learning ways to relax and unwind is important. Until you learn to manage the stress you encounter, you will not be able to improve your total health and wellness.

10.Participate in prevention and health care screenings.

Ignorance is not bliss! Not knowing about a health problem, does not make it go away. In fact, early detection and prevention can be your BEST defense against life-threatening conditions. The bottom-line is, know your numbers for health, get your annual screenings and see your physician regularly as directed by your age and condition. An ounce of prevention IS worth a pound of cure!



Higher Purpose

For the sake of this article, I am going to assume that you (and I) are trying to eat healthy most  of the time.  My question is simply, “Why?”

Is it simply because we want a longer life, a skinnier life, a disease-free life, a leaner, stronger body?  Or because it eases our consciences? I know that probably sounds pretty lame, but I am not so sure that this isn’t true for many of us…

So you spend a ton of energy sculpting a skinny body, but what’s your skinny body for? Just so you can look in the mirror and smile? What gift are you here to give others? Or you work very hard at becoming a vegetarian; so what? How is it going to make your life more meaningful?

I am thinking that good nutrition needs to have more of a purpose than good health, because health by itself doesn’t always have meaning. I mean, living is about more than health, isn’t it? We need a reason, a purpose for being here on planet earth. A healthy body has to have purpose, because we are more than our bodies. We actually are a spirit that has a mind and lives in a body for now. Your body is what carries you around. It’s really a gift. The purpose of the gift is more than health, isn’t it? It’s so that you can be all that you were meant to be.

Nothing wrong with having personal physical goals and reaching for them; I am all about that myself. Go for it! But when this becomes your only reason for doing what you do with your body, maybe things have become somewhat out of balance… Maybe you forgot that your life has a lot more meaning than that.


As corny as it sounds, you are here for a reason. The world needs you. It wants you, your gift, your talents, your service, your heart, your mind, and your creative potential fulfilled. And the world isn’t that interested in whether or not you’ve been eating low fat or high fiber, or if you finally lost the 5 pounds.

So yes, let’s eat healthy, look good, sculpt our bodies and have lots of energy. But we can’t stop there. We have to have a reason beyond all that. We ought to make a difference because of that.

Getting Your Zzzz’s

I love to sleep. But with my mind going 100 miles an hour, the menopause thing going on and a lot of other things, it doesn’t come as easy as it used to when I was a kid.  That’s a bummer, to say the least. Because Sleep deprivation does the following to our lovely bodies:

~messes with its normal ability to process and control blood sugar becomes hindered as the body’s sensitivity to insulin gets weaker, making it difficult for every cell of the body to properly absorb blood sugar.

~forces your body to find ways to compensate for neurons not secreting the normal amounts of serotonin and dopamine.

~upsets the balance of two other hormones that control appetite: ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin makes you feel hungry and leptin tells the brain that we are full. Less than 8 hours sleep causes ghrelin levels to go up and leptin levels to go down which means that carbohydrate cravings increase even though the requirements might be met; we are set up big time. Yikes! So we better stop feeling guilty about hunger when we did not sleep–it’s not lack of self-control!

~Cortisol (another weight-related hormone) is not processed as well when we don’t sleep enough.

~Depression, decreased ability to focus and irritability are all directly related to losing sleep!

And did you know that 42% of all healthy, middle-aged women in the United States report some kind of sleep trouble, including difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night, or not feeling refreshed in the morning.

Sleep is a “mind-body” experience.

There’s no doubt that from a physiological standpoint that sleep is a complicated event related to many factors that cut across the “mind-body” spectrum. When we can’t get to sleep because we’re worried and feeling anxious, or depressed and feeling down, or confused and can’t figure something out, we obviously aren’t going to get to the root of our sleep trouble until we’re able to work through the parts of our lives that we’re feeling anxious or depressed about. At the same time, however, nutrition also influences our sleep. So let’s not overlook the way we eat!

Sleep has a lot to do with what we eat.

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Patterns and timing make a difference.  We’ve all heard the advice, “don’t eat a big meal too close to bedtime.” Although this advice sounds simple, it’s actually very important and not that easy to follow. We often eat a meal late at night-within two hours of bedtime-precisely because we haven’t made time during the day to enjoy food.  In fact, we let ourselves get so hungry that we don’t really care any more about the joy of eating. We just want something in our stomach! Research shows that the timing and size of our evening meal is closely related to the timing and size of our other meals throughout the day. When we have a cup of coffee in the car on the way to work, grab a sandwich for lunch, or take care of all the household chores before getting around to dinner, we are setting ourselves up for a bad night’s sleep.

A large meal asks our circulatory system to move more blood to our digestive tract. It asks our stomach to secrete more gastric acid. It asks our pancreas to become more active and produce digestive enzymes. It asks the smooth muscles around our intestines to become active. In short, when it comes to our physiology, a large meal does anything but relax us.  In addition, our digestive tracts are set up to work best when we are standing; lying down results in gravity pulling the “wrong way” to help foods digest. Even though the practice of napping after a meal is common, it isn’t ideal from the standpoint of digestion. Sitting and resting are fine. For example, enjoying each other’s company around the table after a delicious meal is a good idea. But lying down to sleep just doesn’t help digestion.

It’s also worth thinking about the physiological purpose of eating in regard to late-night meals. Nutrients and energy get released from food after we eat, not before. They help increase our vitality hours after the meal has been eaten; they cannot go back and compensate for a prior day’s worth of activity that received no nutritional support. The time to have our largest meal is always before we need the most nutritional support, i.e., before we have the most physically demanding part of our day. Sleep is the least physically demanding part of the day, and the least logical target for release of food energy and nutrients. We tell ourselves we’ve had a hard day, and we’re starved, but at this point, it’s too late to repair any nutritional damage done. We need the nourishment before the hard day (and hopefully it will make the day less difficult). I should also mention how important it is not to go to bed actually hungry; this can interfere with sleep, usually by failing to keep the brain supplied with enough glucose (sugar).

So here are a few other tips to help you get a good night’s sleep:

~Follow a regular schedule and a bedtime routine

~Try to get some natural light in the afternoon each day

~No caffeine later in the day and no heavy meal before bed

~Too much alcohol interferes with sleep as well

~Exercise a bit more

~Make sure bedroom is restful: cool temperature, good ventilation, comfortable mattress/pillow, dark shades.

~Try not to worry about your sleep!

~Natural sleep-inducing tactics: warm bath, white noise (sound spa, fan), chamomile tea, lavender aromatherapy oil on pillow

~Watch the timing of some meds.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are far from boring or tasteless.  They supply bitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.  They are easy to cook (stove top, electric steamer, pressure cooker, rice cooker, crockpot and microwave) and supply vitamins, protein and fiber besides the good, complex carbohydrates.
Here are some that you may not be familiar with:
Amaranth gives a delicious nut-like flavor to foods and contains more protein, lysine, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium than any other grain. It is also a good source of vitamin C and beta carotene. Amaranth is commonly made into flour for use in breads, noodles, pancakes, cereals and cookies. To prepare, add 1 cup of amaranth to 2 cups of boiling water for a rice-like texture or 2.5 to 3 times more water for cereal. Cook until tender, about 18-20 minutes.

Barley is used in main dishes and soups and can be ground into flour for baked goods. The flavor is sweet and nutty. High in protein, niacin, folic acid, thiamin, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous, it is a good substitute for rice and millet in recipes and rolled barley may be used in place of rolled oats. To prepare, boil 4 cups of water and add 1 cup of barley; reduce heat, cover, and cook 1 hour. Serve with dried fruit, raisins, honey, or grated orange rind.

Brown rice is a good source of B vitamins and Vitamin E and may be ground into flour for baking cakes, cookies, pancakes, waffles and breads. To prepare, boil twice as much water as you have rice. Stir in rice, return to boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer about 35-40 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the rice to steam for another 15 minutes or more. Fluff with a fork to separate grains. To make you own cream of rice cereal, grind enough toasted rice to equal 1 cup. Bring 3 cups water to boil and add ground rice. Return to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook 1 hour. Top with honey, fruit or nuts. You can also bake your brown rice in the oven in a glass baking dish. Gather your ingredients as usual (1.5 cups rice and 2.5 cups water), butter and salt. Boil the water, salt and butter together and then pour the mixture over the rice, cover with foil and bake at 375° for one hour.

Buckwheat is sometimes referred to as “groats” (hulled, crushed kernels) or “kasha” (roasted buckwheat groats). Whole grain buckwheat may be used as a main or dish, added to casseroles or soups or ground into flour for pancakes, waffles, muffins, and breads. The flour is dark, robust, and slightly sweet and is best used in combination with blander flours when baking. It contributes bioflavanoids, protein, folic acid, vitamin B6, calcium, and iron to your diet. To prepare, use about 2 cups water per cup of buckwheat. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20-30 minutes or until tender, not crunchy (add extra water, if needed). For a main dish or side dish, cook onions with the buckwheat and add some herbs and sea salt during the last 10 minutes of cooking time. For kasha, use slightly less water and reduce cooking time to 15-20 minutes.



Kamut is a type of wheat. It is a good source of protein, pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. To prepare, use kamut flour in place of wheat flour in most recipes, especially pasta. Rolled kamut is available in some natural foods stores and can be used in place of rolled oats.

Millet may be prepared like rice and used for hot cereal and pilaf or cooked with spices and served as a side dish, in soups and in casseroles. Ground millet “meal” and millet flour are used to make puddings, breads, cakes, and cookies. Millet is bland tasting, so it is best used in combination with stronger flavors. In addition to protein, millet provides calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous. To prepare hot cereal, roast uncooked millet in a dry pan for a few minutes, then bring 2 cups water to a boil, add 1/2 cup millet, and return to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer about 20-30 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons raisins or chopped dates during last 10 minutes of cooking time for extra flavor. Thin to desired consistency with soy, rice, oat, or nut milk, and sweeten with honey or pure maple syrup, cinnamon, raisins, bananas, or chopped apples. If you are using it as a main dish or adding it to breads, reduce the amount of water to 1.5 cups.


Oat groats can be cooked and served as hot cereal or prepared like rice and used as a side dish or added to stuffing. When steamed and flattened, oat groats become rolled oats (old-fashioned oats or oatmeal), which may be prepared as hot oatmeal or added to breads and cookies. Oats are rich in antioxidants, so breads, cookies, and other items made with oats don’t spoil as quickly. Oats are a good source of protein, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamin A, thiamin and pantothenic acid. To prepare, pour 1/2 cup oats into 1 cup of boiling water or milk. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Serve with soy, rice, oat, or nut milk, and sweeten with honey or pure maple syrup or add cinnamon, raisins or chopped apples.

Quinoa, pronounced “keen-wa,” is higher in unsaturated fat and lower in carbohydrates than most grains (technically, it’s a seed), and it’s also a complete protein, since it contains every essential amino acid. It is an excellent replacement for rice or millet in cereals, main dishes, soups, side dishes, salads, and desserts and it cooks in half the time as rice. Quinoa may be ground into flour for use in breads, cakes, cookies and used in making pasta, and it also provides protein, calcium, iron, phosphorous, vitamin E, and lysine. To prepare, rinse thoroughly by rubbing grains together in water in order to remove the bitter outer coating (saponin), which may irritate digestion or allergies. Bring 2-3 cups water to boil and add 1 cup quinoa, reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes or until tender.

Spelt is an excellent high-gluten substitute for those allergic to wheat and it can be substituted for wheat in almost every recipe, including pasta. Spelt is easier to digest than most grains and is full of B vitamins, such as riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin, as well as iron and potassium. To prepare, pre-soak 1 cup spelt in 2.5 cups water several hours or overnight. Change the water, bring to boil and then simmer for 45-60 minutes until tender but chewy.

Triticale may be found in whole berries, rolled like oats or ground into flour. Triticale flour must be combined with wheat, barley or spelt flour in order to produce a light, fluffy end product. Berries or rolled triticale can be used as cereal, in casseroles, or in side dishes such as pilaf. To prepare a delicious, hot cereal, add 1 cup triticale to 3 cups boiling water; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until tender.

Wheat berries provide protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium, as well as B vitamins and vitamin E. To prepare, soak 2 cups of berries in water overnight and drain. Add the wheat berries to 6 cups boiling water or broth in a pot, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1-2 hours. Serve with butter, honey or soy sauce. Add leftovers to soups, salads or knead into bread dough. For a crispy snack, place 4 cups wheat berries and 12 cups boiling water in a container, cover and allow them to soak overnight. Drain off the water and spread berries evenly onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 300° F until brown and crispy (about 10-15 minutes). To make your own cream of wheat from scratch, toast wheat berries and then grind enough to produce1 cup. Bring 3 cups water to a boil and add the ground wheat berries. Return to boil, reduce heat, cover and cook about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Top with honey, fruit or nuts.

Do you have any recipe(s) that use these grains to share with all of us? 

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